‘Tent city’ cleared after property owner forces homeless off land

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — People living in tents in an area known as ‘tent city’ cleared the area Friday.

The plot of land near 12th and Poplar streets in uptown Charlotte is owned by a company called WB Moore Electrical. The company said it wants to develop the land and ordered tenants to move by 5 p.m. Friday.

Non-profit groups worked all week to help people move their tents. Some simply moved to another plot of land across the street.

Founder of Hearts for Invisible Charlotte Jessica Lefkowitz said she’s hoping the city will step in with more permanent solution.

“We need options emergency shelters safe encampments and transitional housing. I know a lot of organizations that have the funding lets make this happen,” Lefkowitz said.

Some tenants moved into hotels provided by a non-profits and city leaders told Channel 9 they approved $3.4 million to help people in tent city and local hotels.

They’ve already helped about a dozen people who were out there.

Tent community must leave uptown property by 5 p.m. or be removed

The coronavirus pandemic has caused many people in our community to lose their jobs and some have been forced out of their homes. As a result, tent communities have grown across Charlotte and one, in particular, is set to soon be cleared.

WB Moore Electrical owns the land at 12th and Poplar streets and has given people living in the tents on the property until 5 p.m. Friday to move out.

The company said they are sensitive to what’s going on but that they want to develop the land, so the tents must be torn down. If they aren’t gone by 5 p.m., police said they will remove them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended leaving so-called “tent cities” up during the pandemic so people have somewhere to go to while shelters may be closed down.

The agency that runs the local men’s shelter -- Roof Above -- estimates 25 to 30 people are staying at the encampment. But the company that owns the property wants them to go, and since it’s private property, police said they have no choice but to enforce it.

“CMPD has a duty and an obligation to respond and assist the property owners with removing people who are trespassing on their private property,” CMPD Capt. Brad Koch said.

The company that owns the land wants to turn this property into a parking lot for their employees and said the tents need to be gone before they start demolition in a few days.

Randall Hitt with Roof Above said they have been sending teams of workers into the encampment for the last week trying to prepare them for the move.

“There is some added anxiety. I think it’s good we’re out there every day providing some consistency and hope that by the time we get to Friday, there’s some plan, although the reality is there may be some people who disperse and we might not know where they go,” Hitt said.

Channel 9 was there as Theodore Price broke down his tent Wednesday afternoon. He just signed papers that will give him a more permanent place to live after Friday.

“I’m just going to move across the street until everything happens. I thank God for everything,” he said.

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